Aberdeen Introduction Walking Tour, Aberdeen

Aberdeen Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Aberdeen

The area where Aberdeen now sits has been inhabited by people for at least 8,000 years. The city that we now know as Aberdeen was first chartered in 1179. It was granted city status in 1891.

The city has been successful over the years due to vast granite deposits used for making sturdy buildings and fortifications. It was also known for its fishing, textile and paper-making industries. However, today Aberdeen is known for its oil and natural gas industry. In fact, the city has been called the "Oil Capital of Europe."

Money from the oil industry has allowed the city to refurbish many of its most highly regarded tourist destinations. Religious buildings like the Salvation Army Citadel and the Kirk of St. Nicholas have undergone restorations that bring out the past while keeping the buildings safe and secure. Provost Skene's House and Marischal College are historical spots that are certain to be eye-opening.

Visitors to Aberdeen can see plenty of culture as they walk the streets. Music Hall and His Majesty's Theatre show the importance of arts to this city. The Tolbooth museum provides a different type of culture to those wanting to know more about the history of crime and punishment in Scotland.

Take this self-guided tour to learn about Aberdeen's past and present while experiencing the beauty of this great city.
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Aberdeen Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Aberdeen Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Scotland » Aberdeen (See other walking tours in Aberdeen)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Author: jenny
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Castlegate Square
  • Salvation Army Citadel
  • Tolbooth Museum
  • Aberdeen Maritime Museum
  • Union Street
  • Aberdeen Music Hall
  • His Majesty's Theatre
  • Kirk of St Nicholas
  • Provost Skene's House
  • Marischal College
Castlegate Square

1) Castlegate Square

Castlegate Square is a small section of the city of Aberdeen. The area is surrounded by Castle Street and Castle Terrace. It is signified by the Mercat cross, which was built in 1686.

The Mercat Cross was designed by John Montgomery. It is a hexagonal structure that is enclosed and adorned with medallions featuring Stewart monarchs, the Royal arms and the burgh's arms. A gilded, marble unicorn sits atop the structure.

Castlegate Square was once the spot where merchants met to peddle their wares. The cobbled streets still give visitors access to shops, restaurants and pop-up vendors who may sell arts, crafts or antiques. It is also home to the Salvation Army Citadel.

The square is the traditional location of the city Christmas Tree, which usually stands next to the Mercat Cross. It is also known as being the site of public executions. The last of these took place in 1857.
Salvation Army Citadel

2) Salvation Army Citadel

The Salvation Army Citadel is a Christian church on Castle Street. This famous landmark of Aberdeen was built in 1896. The building was designed by James Souttar. It was based on Balmoral Castle, which was built some 40 years earlier.

The citadel's construction took place on the site of the ancient Aberdeen Castle. That castle was destroyed by an angry mob of citizens in 1308. The legend states that the mob then used the stones from Aberdeen Castle to build a church in the same location.

The outside of the building has a castle-like facade with turrets, stained glass and an arched entrance. The exterior is made from granite, which gives it an old world appeal while continually looking new. Inside, the citadel has a worship hall, meeting rooms and a cafe.

Visitors are welcome to attend Sunday church services at 10:15 AM. The church is also open from 10 AM to 1 PM Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Tolbooth Museum

3) Tolbooth Museum (must see)

The Tolbooth Museum is a 17th-century jail and one of the oldest buildings in Aberdeen. It has functioned as a museum since 1995. Visitors can see prison cells, displays about police work and the Scottish Maiden, which was used in actual executionis.

The Tolbooth was built in 1629 as an addition to the Aberdeen Sheriff Court. Over the years, it held many prisoners who were accused of practicing witchcraft or who were prisoners of war. Children were also held in the Tolbooth before being sold into slavery.

The museum is a popular attraction for those who want to learn more about the dark history of Aberdeen. Visitors can enter an interactive cell where they learn about Jacobites who were held during the 18th century. Visitors interested in the paranormal may be intrigued to learn the Tolbooth is considered one of the most haunted buildings in the city. They may be able to take part in a ghost tour during their visit.

The museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday and noon to 3 PM on Sundays.
Aberdeen Maritime Museum

4) Aberdeen Maritime Museum (must see)

The Aberdeen Maritime Museum is a seafaring museum near the harbor of the River Dee. It is housed in buildings that were once the Trinity Congregational Church and the home of Provost John Ross. These original buildings were constructed in 1593, but fell into extreme disrepair over the years. They were refurbished for use as the maritime museum in 1984.

The museum holds displays about shipbuilding, fishing, the oil industry and the history of the port. Visitors will see ship models that date from 1689 to present day. They can observe harpoons, medieval goods, a lighthouse lens assemble and a steamer deck.

Tourists are welcome to go to the top floor of the museum for an excellent view of Aberdeen Harbor. They will also see an exhibit that covers trade in the harbor over nearly 1,000 years.

The Aberdeen Maritime Museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM on Monday through Saturday and from 11 AM to 4 PM on Sundays.
Union Street

5) Union Street (must see)

Union Street is a major thoroughfare that cuts through the midst of the city. Starting at Alfred Place and ending at Castle Street, Union Street is about one mile long. This includes 130 foot Union Bridge, which crosses over Denburn Road. Completed in 1805, the Union Bridge holds a world record as the world's largest single span granite bridge.

The street was originally developed in 1794 from a design by engineer Charles Abercrombie. The idea was to create a larger street for visitors to the city who were congesting the narrow streets. Likewise, the town council asked Abercrombie to provide access from five different entry points.

Union Street is ideal for walking because it is completely closed to traffic between Bridge Street and Market Street. Visitors can use their time on Union Street to shop, stop to eat or take photos of the many sites along the way. Among these sites are the historic St. James' Episcopal Church, Gilcomston Church and the Aberdeen Music Hall.
Aberdeen Music Hall

6) Aberdeen Music Hall

The Music Hall is a concert hall and theatre. The hall was originally used as the Assembly Rooms. It was constructed in 1822 from a design by Aberdeen architect Archibald Simpson. It was first used as a concert hall in 1859. The city's first movie screening took place in the Music Hall in 1896.

The music hall regularly features the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. In addition, many touring musicians visit the Music Hall. It is also the location of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival.

After two major renovations, the hall added two additional spaces to accompany the 1,300 seat main auditorium. These spaces are Big Sky Studio and the Tutti Creative Learning Studio. In addition, visitors can enjoy the Coda Cafe-Bar, which is open from 9:30 AM to 5 PM.

Those who wish to attend a show at the Music Hall can enjoy a variety of performances that take place on a regular basis. The box office is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM.
His Majesty's Theatre

7) His Majesty's Theatre (must see)

His Majesty's Theatre opened in 1906. The granite building was designed by Frank Matcham in the Free Renaissance architectural style. The four-story theatre has a copper domed tower and a Tragedy and Comedy statue.

His Majesty's Theatre underwent a significant refurbishment in 1999. Along with new seats and backstage facilities, it was granted a new box office, bars that are open for pre-show drinks, a cafe and a restaurant.

Though it originally held more than 2,300 seats, it remains the largest theatre in Aberdeen with a seating capacity of more than 1,400. It regularly hosts touring companies, international performing artists and local acts. Along with the Music Hall, His Majesty's Theatre hosts the annual Aberdeen International Youth Festival.

Tourists can visit His Majesty's Theatre in person during box office hours. The box office is open from 10 AM to 6 PM on Tuesday through Saturday. It is also open one hour before each show is scheduled to start.
Kirk of St Nicholas

8) Kirk of St Nicholas

The Kirk of St Nicholas is a historic church that dates as far back as 1151. The church was significantly upgraded in the 15th century and again in 1755. It is considered the Mither Kirk, or mother church, of the city. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of Aberdeen due to the miraculous rescue of sailor in a treacherous storm.

The interior of the church is outfitted in dark oak. It contains a large, stained glass window that celebrated the church's 500th anniversary. The carillon of 36 bells was installed in the granite tower in 1887. They were replaced in 1950 with 48 bells, making it one of the largest carillons in the country.

The graveyard surrounds the church on three sides. Monuments, dating to the mid-17th century, include a number of notable burials from the city's history. Some of these include Sir Thomas Blaikie, Alexander Dingwall Fordycce, Captain William Penny, William Rickart and Archibald Simpson. Rev. Prof. William Laurence Brown is buried inside the church.
Provost Skene's House

9) Provost Skene's House

Provost Skene’s house is a 16th century period house and museum located in Marischal Square. The house was built in 1545, but is furnished in styles that date from the 17th through 19th centuries. It is open to the public so visitors can view the history of life in Aberdeen over the years.

The home was purchased by Sir George Skene of Fintray. He purchased the house in 1669. Provost Skene was a merchant who was named Provost of the city from 1676 to 1685.

The museum includes a costume gallery, a gallery of paintings, local artifacts and numerous coins. There is also a Renaissance-style painted ceiling in the attic gallery and a number of carved plaster ceilings elsewhere in the house.

The house was opened to the public in 1953. It is open from 10 AM to 5 PM on Monday through Saturday and from 11 AM to 4 PM on Sundays. There is no cost to tour the home.
Marischal College

10) Marischal College

Marischal College is an iconic, granite building that was originally created for the University of Aberdeen. It is the second largest granite building in the world. The building was designed in the Gothic Revival architecture style by architect Archibald Simpson.

Construction on Marischal College began in 1835 and was completed during the early 20th century. It was used as office space and to hold classes for the campus. However, over time, the building fell into disrepair. Only Mitchell Hall, the anatomy department and the Marischal Museum were still in use through 2009 when renovations took place.

Though still owned by the University of Aberdeen, the building has served as the headquarters of Aberdeen City Council since 2011. Parts of the college are used as office space for the university. It is remains the home of the Marischal Museum.

A statue of Scottish King Robert the Bruce was erected outside of Marischal College in 2011. Robert the Bruce was King of Scots from 1306 to his death in 1329. He was one of the most famous warriors of his time and led the Kingdom of Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England. King Robert the Bruce is revered in Scotland as a national hero. He sits on horseback holding the university charter.

Walking Tours in Aberdeen, Scotland

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Create Your Own Walk in Aberdeen

Creating your own self-guided walk in Aberdeen is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Aberdeen Old Town Tour

Aberdeen Old Town Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles